“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” Philippians 1:12
The “E” in SHAPE stands for your life EXPERIENCES.
One of the best resources for future ministry is your past experiences.
Think about it: your experiences have provided opportunities for growing, healing, learning, and serving. When you look back over your life experiences and put them together into your “life story” you discover your “life message.” God wants to use your “life message” to make a difference in the lives of others.
For example, think about the hurts and problems you’ve been through and overcome with God’s help. Some of your greatest life messages come out of your weaknesses, your hurts, and your problems. God never wastes a hurt! He wants you to be open to ministering to people who are going through what you’ve already been through! This is what Paul says about it:
“God…wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them the same help and comfort God has given us!” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
So take some time to reflect on your growing, healing, learning, and serving experiences. Write down your thoughts and feelings about …
- Your Spiritual Experiences—meaningful decisions or times with God
- Your Painful Experiences—problems, hurts, and trials that have taught you
- Your Educational Experiences—favorite subjects, special training or equipping experiences
- Your Ministry Experiences—previous areas of meaningful service
Examine your experiences and reflect on the lessons you’ve learned. Ask yourself how those experience might benefit others. For example, what past ministry experiences brought you significant joy? What training or work experiences have equipped you for making a difference in the life of the church? When you put all of these experiences together you come up with a life message that God wants you to use for serving others!